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Hatch Faces Trial by Fire in Utah Hatch Faces Trial by Fire in Utah

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Hatch Faces Trial by Fire in Utah

In today's National Journal Daily (subscriber), we take a look ahead to Thursday's Utah Republican precinct caucuses in Utah -- a major test for Sen. Orrin Hatch's reelection prospects:

There are roughly 2,300 precincts in Utah. On Thursday, Republicans will hold neighborhood meetings across the state to elect delegates to the April 21 state convention. At the convention, if a candidate gets 60 percent support at any point, he or she wins the nomination.

Hatch's campaign manager, Dave Hansen, says his team has focused on two main goals: recruiting people to run as delegates at precinct caucuses, and finding people to go to the caucuses to support the Hatch delegates.

"Do we have an advantage because we started early and have the resources to do what we need to do? I think we do," Hansen said.


FreedomWorks Vice President Russ Walker says the group has pushed a two-pronged campaign against Hatch, focusing on recruiting delegates as well as educating caucus-goers through meetings, mailings, and TV and radio spots.

By March 15, FreedomWorks will have sent out eight or nine mailings and held about 36 public town meetings, Walker said. In terms of the recruitment program, "I've been told by people in Utah that nobody's ever quite done what we've done, with the exception of maybe Hatch," he said.

Kirk Jowers, the director of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics and Federal Relations, said Liljenquist's efforts can't be compared to Hatch's. "It's kind of like saying, 'Has [Rick] Santorum been doing the same work that Romney has?' " Jowers said.

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